The Tavern at The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum is a tribute to the famed Tavern On The Green in New York’s Central Park. This summer, in addition to fine cuisine, murder is on the menu at the Boca Raton restaurant.
“Murder at the Wick,” running through July, is the creation of director and actor D.J. Smith.
“Don’t expect to see Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard or Mrs. Peacock,” warned Texas native Smith, 33. “Imagine if you actually fell into a crime scene. You showed up at a dinner party and people started killing each other.”
Unlike most similar productions, characters don’t stand up and read excerpts or monologues. The actors are “embedded” into the guests at the restaurant and the murders occur at the most unexpected times during the meal.
A detective does arrive on the scene at a crucial moment to provide just a little comedic relief and, Smith promised, “creates a few red herrings” as guests must hunt for clues.
“You never know when someone might drink a glass of poison and keel over right there at your table,” Smith said.
The “show” is a challenge for the three to four cast members because they don’t have scripts and don’t even know how the mystery will unravel.
“The actors show up with motives and reasons to be on the scene and those motives can cause them to take some desperate actions,” Smith said.
There have been previous performances where the actors were not discovered until the end of the meal because their acting blended so naturally with the guests.
Smith recalled, “Sometimes you wind up following the wrong person. I have had guests followed into the bathrooms because someone thought they were the killer.”
Most recently, Smith called New Orleans home because of the city’s burgeoning film and television industry. Smith’s productions there became so popular, he was approached in 2013 by Channing Tatum to offer murder mystery dinners at Saints & Sinners, the restaurant the actor co-owns on Bourbon Street.
“He wasn’t one for a lot of words—he’s a great dancer and very nice—and he loved the idea,” said Smith.
Smith produced 10 monthly performances and each sold out quickly.
The production was a natural for The Wick, thanks to the longstanding relationship Smith had with Executive Producer Marilynn Wick.
While living in Dallas, Smith took a job at Wick’s Costume World location there and soon became manager. Costume World offers the largest selection of rental, retail and theatrical costumes in the world and is headquartered in Deerfield Beach with another location in Pittsburgh.
“I wanted to get a job somewhat involved in theater that would allow me to take auditions,” he said. “Marilynn actually hired me over the phone.”
While at Costume World, Smith initiated a long-standing relationship with the Dallas gay community, providing costumes for monthly gay BINGO games, “a big deal in Dallas,” he said. “We did our part to support the community.”
“Murder at the Wick” promises to be equally successful in South Florida with the first four performances sold out.
“Murder at the Wick” is presented on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. through July 28 in The Tavern restaurant at The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum, 9301 N. Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton. Tickets are $68, including complimentary cocktail and dinner, at TheWick.org.